Not only Wooden's replacement, but created the UAB hoops program from whole cloth and then had them in the dance in 3 years. His son, Murray, was an assistant for Coach Knight and was an assistant for Knight's third national champion in 1987.
Coach Gene Bartow dies at age 81
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Posted 04 January 2012 - 10:56 PM
| GENE BARTOW, who died yesterday at age 81 at his Birmingham, Ala., home after a two-year battle with stomach cancer, will always be known as the man who replaced legendary John Wooden at UCLA, who retired in 1975.|
But for all the success he had in his 36 years of coaching at six different universities and two high schools, he will be best remembered in the city of Memphis for coaching the Memphis State Tigers to the 1973 NCAA championship game and for the way he united a divided city that had gone up in flames during rioting two years earlier, following the assasination of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
Bartow came to Memphis State from Valparaiso in 1970 at a salary of just $20,000. He inherited two African-American players from the city — the late, great All-American guard Larry Finch and forward Ronnie Robinson, who became the backbone of a program that went 82-32 in four seasons and took a magical run through the 1973 tournament with a group of local stars who helped heal a lot of festering wounds in the community.
“I was lucky that Larry and Ronnie were already in the program when I got to Memphis,” Bartow once said. “They were just great players and leaders, but they were also great people. They loved people, white or black, just a couple of caring guys.”
The native of Browning Mo., had just two losing seasons in 34 years as a college head coach.
He coached exactly 1,000 college games, at Central Missouri State, Valparaiso (Ind.) University, then Memphis State, Illinois, UCLA and Alabama-Birmingham. He was 647-353, with 14 NCAA tournament appearances, and is one of 13 coaches in history to take two different schools (Memphis and UCLA) to the Final Four.
Bartow was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009, along with Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wayman Tisdale, Jud Heathcote, Walter Byers, Travis Grant and Bill Wall.
Bartow is survived by his wife, Ruth, and children, Mark, Beth and Murray.
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